sing me a song

17 09 2013



We have a routine.  It’s not anything that we set out to create but one was created anyway.  I don’t know where it came from but it happens nearly every night.  Generally by the time I have come into his room mommy is just finishing her prayers with him.  He says, “I love you mom,” she says, “I love you too;” and then walks out.  At that point it becomes my turn.

I generally start out by saying, “Hi Son;” and then we move into our routine.  It starts with crossing off the day on his calendar.  As I put the pen back in his drawer he gets back underneath his covers and waits for us to have our nightly talk.  We talk about the day . . . what happened in school and whether or not he picked out his clothes for the next day.  I ask him if his teacher read any stories that day and somehow we wind up talking about animals.  I then pray with him.  I speak a blessing over him (like I do with each of our children) and then we do our special send off.

The special send off goes like this: First, we flex the muscles in our arms and pretend to be the hulk (sounds and all).  Secondly, we bump our fists together and say, “cheers.”  Finally we make a swooshing sound as our hands come a part.  I give him a kiss on the nose and that’s it.  At least I thought it was.  But then he changed everything on me just last week.  He said, “dad, can you sing me a song?”  He’s never done this before and completely caught me off guard.  I didn’t know what to do.  It was almost like every single song just escaped my mind.

Finally, I remembered a song I used to sing to him when he was a little guy.  It goes like this: “You are my Trystan, my only Trystan.  You make me happy when skies are grey.  You never know son, how much i love you.  Daddy loves you, yes i do.”

After I was done he said, “thanks dad,” and i told him he was welcome.  To this day I don’t have a clue why he asked me to sing a song that night and he hasn’t since (idk, if that means it was terrible or what).  But I can say I was honored to do it.  I can say it was definitely something where I didntseethatcomin.


half and half

9 09 2013


Everyone once and while an awesome thing happens and Saturday was the “once and a while” for me.  We had just   finished grocery shopping which meant we were all hungry.  We were driving through our home town when we saw an advertisement on the side of the road that said a local pizza chain was having a deal for their large pizza’s.  i looked at my wife and she knew what i was thinking so we stopped to get some pizza.

The plan was to get a half cheese half pepperoni pizza.  Cheese for my wife and our two boys, pepperoni for me and our daughter (we like meat).  So i go in and i give them my order and then politely take my seat in the waiting area.  While waiting i took the opportunity to joke around with the restaurants staff which was fine (i think) cuz i was the only one there.  Eventually our pizza came out of the oven and the lady who was going to box it for me says . . . “um, this was only supposed to be half pepperoni.”  The manager who took my order quickly looks at the guy who made it and says “Darn-it Justin.”  They then quickly proceed to making my pizza again.

Now, at this moment in time i decided to do something I’ve never done before.  I asked one of the workers “well, if you’re just gonna throw the other pizza away could i have it for free?”  I thought i was going way out on a limb here.  The worker then told me that that would be fine.  I was like wow.  They also said they’d throw in an order of breadsticks.  This was awesome.  The only problem was that I didn’t like the normal breadsticks i wanted the fancy kind.  So i asked, “is there any way i might be able to get the fancy breadsticks and pay the difference?”  i was then told they’d just give me the breadsticks i wanted for free.


A few moments later i walked out of the pizza restaurant with 2 pizza’s and an order of breadsticks for the cost of one discounted pizza.  Now that’s just stinking awesome.  I was so happy that it worked out.  The life lessons from this story are: always order a half cheese half pepperoni pizza, and don’t be afraid to ask for a deal . . . you might just get one.

wet feet

1 01 2013

ottoman  over the course of any given week there are moments when i turn into someone else for my kids.  you’ve probably heard of him.  You’ve probably gone through times where you’ve turned into him yourself.  It’s none other than . . . Jungle Jim.

Some of these JJ times occur while I’m taking a nap, sometimes they happen out of my own doing, and to be honest pretty much everywhere in-between.  but the one thing that gets me and the thing that i may never understand is the innate desire that my kids have to jump on me while my eyes are closed and I’m defenseless.  It’s like “hey, dad’s eyes are closed.  quick, lets turn into high jumpers and instead of landing on a big blue mat lets land on dad (which sadly enough if I’m wearing a blue shirt . . . ah, never mind).”  Now this isn’t saying that my kids are strange, I have to believe since probably the time of Cain and Able kids have been doing this (i know I’ve done it),  but every time i jumped onto my dad as a kid i know the thought about 3 munchkins 28 years later doing it to me was not at the forefront of my mind.  maybe it should have been.

a few days ago i was JJ for our youngest . . . my little guy.  I was on the couch with my legs outstretched on the ottoman just relaxing (spending some time on my Mac) when he came up to me and somehow saw this as an invitation for jumping and bouncing.  I don’t know how that works but at least i was awake.  He’d get onto my legs, bounce around a bit, and then jump off.  it was nothing serious and as long as he stayed calm while watching his show (and let his dad for the most part remain Tommy instead of Jungle Jim) i was happy to oblige.  But that changed rather quickly.

At some point while sitting on my legs the sun that was shinning through our bay window in the upstairs living room got the best of him.  I saw it / heard it coming but there was nothing that i could do.  Somehow the brightness of the sun caught him off guard and though he tried to hold it, somehow it worked its way out.  In the nano second that it took to take place i had many thoughts go through my head.  I could lift my legs quickly which would result in him plummeting toward the wooden floor (not a good idea).  i could close the lid of my laptop and maybe pick him up and set him on the floor, nope (i haven’t moved that fast since sneaking out of the cabins at Bible Camp).  I could do all kinds of things or i could do what maybe most fathers would do in the moment . . . which was nothing.  My choice was . . . to do nothing.

The result of this decision was wet feet.  That’s right, wet feet.  My little guy sneezed all over my feet.  No socks on, just . . . my feet. Which was something i knew was going to happen but not something i was really prepared to deal with.  As my feet were covered in a substance that i can pretty confidently say they’ve never been covered with before i calmly . . . CALMLY closed down my laptop (the damage was done), put it next to me on the couch, picked up my boy, set him on the floor and then proceeded to do the walk where you don’t let your toes touch the floor.  You know, the walk that Marve did in Home Alone after stepping on the ornaments barefoot; yeah that one. I did that walk all the way to the closest towel.

After a few moments i was back to my spot on the couch . . . with cleaner feet i might add watching my little guy play with some toys.  It was like he was oblivious to the situation he had just put his father in.  After all, he wasn’t the one with wet feet.  But then i thought . . . 28 years from now, haha i hope i get to witness it happen to him.

the flipside

18 12 2012

flipside01 My lunch schedule has changed quite a bit over the years.  From not eating, to going home, to now eating lunch . . . but not taking a break when i do.  I’ve found that if i can eat and still stay on task my day is more productive but on occasion when i am able to, I try to take a break and go home to visit the family.  On one such occasion when i was able to go home i witnessed something i will not soon forget.

My drive home always takes me by a local church.  The church has a lot of activity throughout the week and on this certain day there was a funeral.  I’ve seen more funerals facilitated there than i care to count but this one was different.  Different because as i drove past, they drove past me.  You see, they were all lined up in a funeral procession which reminds me of a bunch of ants making their way across the land, but instead of going to get food or bringing food home they were in line for a much more solem reason.

As i drove past them moments away from my house where i’d be seeing my kids and my wife, i thought about who it was that they were saying good-bye to.  was it an elderly person, a grand parent?  Or maybe a longtime church member or a tenor in the choir.  was it a young mom or dad?  Was it a child (which this last weeks events proves to be more possible than we’d like to think)?  or was it someone else?  I didn’t know, and i still don’t know but i do know that on my journey to say hello to my family they were on a journey saying good-bye to a part of theirs.

as i turned down our street i thought about the stark contrast, the irony between the vehicles on either side of the road.  On their side there was obviously pain, questions, maybe relief (if the individual who had died was suffering).  No doubt many would be thinking about eternity and some just trying to muster up enough strength to get through the day.  On my side of the road, well . . . it was a Tuesday.  I had picked up our 4 yr old from pre-school and was taking him home to show mommy his projects from the day.  it was pretty much like the several Tuesday’s before.  I was thinking about giving my wife a kiss and wondering what i was gonne eat (in that order i might add).

As i was finishing up my sandwich i couldn’t escape the visual of all those cars in the line.  i know people die all the time, thankfully babies are born too but its rare for me to see a procession and the seeing of it reminded me of the few times that I’ve been involved in one.  It hasn’t been often, but there has been some times where my vehicle was on the other side of the road . . . the FLIPSIDE.  Times where I’m thinking about eternity while trying to muster up enough strength for the day.  I have to be honest, in those moments i wasn’t   concerned about the cars on the other side.  I didn’t care where they were going or where they were headed but i wonder now, were they thinking about me.  Were they thinking about who we were saying good-bye to while they were on their way to say hello.

When i left home to go back to the office you wouldn’t believe it but the procession was just arriving back to the church.  So the entire time i was enjoying moments with my family, laughing and tickling my kids, they were listening to a minister, taking flowers out of an arrangement on a casket, and saying their final good-byes.  The only difference now between seeing them before and seeing them now is that we were on different sides of the road . . . the FLIPSIDE.  now it was there time to eat, to fellowship with family, to laugh and enjoy one another’s presence.  it was there turn to live out the rest . . . of Tuesday.

one week ago

5 12 2012

week it comes as no surprise when someone says, “life changes from day to day” because as we get older we come face to face with the idea that life (in reality) changes moment to moment.  One moment you’re walking, the next you’re on your back.  One moment you have a job, the next updating your resume.  One moment you’re single, the next Facebook official.  So if life can change from moment to moment then its safe to say that if we were to travel back one week it’d be like looking into a time capsule.

One week ago at this moment i was speaking at an awards ceremony; sharing principles to young men that if applied, could change their life forever.  Now I’m comfortably typing on my MacBook Pro in the presence of . . . myself.  Sitting here updating my blog while wearing pajama pants is not a downgrade from what i was doing one week ago but it sheds light on the fact that one week ago . . . life was different.  It was different for me because i was doing different things and believe it or not it was different for a lot of people and most likely, different for you too.

One week ago millions and millions of people were talking about something called the “POWERBALL” / lottery.  It was up over $500 million and it was expected that this time someone was gonna win.  Whether it would be an office pool victory or some 18 yr old buying their first ticket no one knew but millions of people across the US were hoping it was gonna be them.  Before the winning #’s were even known, military vets, single mom’s, retiree’s, newlyweds, the unemployed, CEO’s, teachers, Las Vegas, etc. were dreaming about what they would do with the money.  Who would blame them?  Winning $500 million could change a persons life quite a bit.  I know it would change mine.

When the winning #’s were revealed, more people than not (to the tune of 175 million to 1) came face to face with another fact of life . . . sometimes life doesn’t change.  Sometime’s the problems we woke up with yesterday are the same ones we go to bed with and wake up to again.  The Powerball was seen by many as a tool that could change their lives but somehow it also became an excuse as to why their life would stay the same.  It’s funny, for some reason the things we think will transform our life can sometimes become the very thing that we allow to set us in stone.  The truth is we don’t have to win $millions before we think of our friends and family.  We don’t have to win the lottery in order to see our dreams come true.  You don’t have to get lucky before you accept that you matter and that you can make a difference . . . though winning the lottery might help.

People that have this down understand that mom doesn’t need a new house, maybe just a new spatula.  You don’t need a new car just a wash.  That before you can conceive of giving $millions you should start by giving the “Bell Ringer” a quarter.  This week, do something that you would have done had you won the POWERBALL . . .  just on a smaller scale.  Pick a charity, choose a cause, buy your dad the car of his dreams and get one for yourself while you’re at it (the Hot Wheels version).  Start paying off a bill.  Send a thank you to a friend.  Do something, and maybe next week when you look inside the time capsule of what was today you’ll see that your life is different, you’ll see that your life has CHANGED.

daddy can we . . .

19 11 2012

being a dad is single handedly one of the best privileges a man could ever receive and every day i consider it an honor to raise the 3 kids that my wife and i have.   it’s an honor to check over homework, say the abc’s, pour bowls of Lucky Charms, Honey Nut Cheerios, and Froot Loops (no FROOT isn’t a spelling mistake) while not having a bowl myself . . . just kidding i’ll take some Lucky Charms any day.  Anyway, I’ve been a dad for 8 yrs now and i’m noticing a  re-accuring question from my kids.  the question is “Daddy can we . . . ?”

Its Daddy can we . . . go outside, play ball, play chess, play Candyland.  Daddy can we . . . do this or do that.  Now, its important to understand they are not asking if they could just go and do those things together.  what they’re asking is for me to go and join them.  Which is fine, but the question “Daddy can we . . . ?” generally happens right when I get home.  right when I get done with a project.  or right when my to-do-list is completed.  its not the kids fault, its the first time/chance they get.  but when they ask its generally the first chance Daddy gets to sit down.

So while i’m sitting there (and all dad’s you can relate) there’s this moment, right!  the moment where you’re tempted to say “not right now,” the moment where you say “daddy’s tired” or “daddy can’t tonight.”  Its tempting for sure but saying it seems so wrong and un-fatherly.  So, i grab the board, . . . the game board that is, the cards, the ball, or my coat and continue my day as a daddy.  Daddy hours don’t stop when you get home.  it could be said that’s when they actually begin.

as i begin to play with my kids i often think back to the moments when my dad would have just came home from work.  the moments where he just got his steel toe boats off.  I think about the times where i would then come running up to him asking if he’d throw the ball with me, play catch, or shoot some baskets.  I now understand how tired he must have been.  i understand how worn out he was.  i understand how much he must have just wanted to sit or hang out a bit with mommy.  But i also remember him getting up.  I remember him taking the time.  I remember as a kid when i said “daddy can we . . . ?” and he said, “YES.”

To all the dad’s out there, it’s time to say YES.  It’s time to TAKE THE TIME with your kids.  So the next time you hear, “Daddy can we . . .?”  Don’t see it as a chore but rather an opportunity.


22 10 2012

  When it comes to bedtime in our house there is a routine . . . just like most family’s i suppose.  I also suppose that time and again something happens that kinda throws the routine in the air . . . well tonight, i pleasantly had that happen to me.

Our routine starts with corralling the kids in the family room which is downstairs and having a family prayer.  Then my wife goes with our youngest to tuck him in (abc’s, songs), i immediately go with our oldest to tuck her in (kids Bible story).  Then my wife goes in with our middle child (son) to tuck him in (they talk and play a little), i then go into our youngest’s room (tickling, working with words, howling like a wolf).  While my wife is with our oldest they have girl talk (i don’t understand).  After i’m done howling with our youngest i make my way to our middle child’s room and TONIGHT . . . this is where the routine got thrown in the air.

I came into his room and made my way to his bed.  He asked me to grab the little booklet on Polar Bears (he loves Polar Bears) for me to read with him.  I laid down next to him and we began to read . . . together.  He tells me what pictures are of the nice and mean bears.  he tells me which ones are the cubs and how big their paws and teeth are.  He then points out the picture of the Polar Bear’s prey, he always says they turn Red . . . which basically means they died.  I know, i know, i know, pretty graphic for a kid but he loves animals.

After we are done with the book i always hold his hand and we pray.  We have our family prayer time earlier but my wife and i also pray individually with each kid.  I always hold his hand with our fingers intertwined.  Before i started to pray he went to count the fingers.  #1 was my pinky, #2 was his, #3 my ring finger, #4 his . . . you get the point.  He ended with #10.  He then had to count from the other direction.  #1 was his thumb, #2 was mine . . . you get the point.  But when he was done with that direction he only counted up to 9.  he knew something wasn’t right.  He counted that direction 3 times and then finally caught the finger he was missing.  i laid there for a moment looking at my hand and looking at the hand of my little man laced together.  I thought is there a more beautiful picture . . . is there a sweeter moment?  none that i could think of.  I recalled how special it was for him to hold the hand of his daddy and how special it was for me to hold the hand of my little man.  I will tell you, i didn’t want to leave that moment.  Who would have ever thought that my little 4 year old man could count from 1-10 and bring his daddy to tears.  I defiantly didntseethatcomin.  1-10, hahahaha it will never be the same.